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The Biggest Brands Should Be Doing the Most: Why We Rate Large and Small Brands Differently

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09 Jul, 2024

This post was originally published on Good on You

Small, independent labels don’t have the same impact as behemoth brands like H&M, which often produce on a vast scale, and wield huge financial power and influence over their supply chains. So when Good On You rates brands, we first distinguish their size in order to assess each brand’s actions proportionately. Here’s why that matters, and how we work it all out.

Small and large brands are determined by their annual turnover

We determine a brand’s size classification as large or small based on its annual turnover—or that of its parent company—using the European Commission’s definition of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Under this definition, micro enterprises are those with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover of €2m or less. Small enterprises have, at most, 50 employees and a €10m turnover. And for medium enterprises (included in the small category under our methodology), it’s a maximum of 250 employees and a turnover of €50m or less—or a balance sheet of €43m.

Most major brands are therefore classified as large ones—including the likes of H&M and all its subsidiaries (COS, Arket, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories), and luxury superbrands such as Kering’s Gucci, or Dior.

Good On You rates brands relative to their size

Much of our methodology is the same for small and large brands, but we use these size classifications to help weight the issues that businesses should be tackling, and for larger brands, the additional issues that they should be addressing.

That means our ratings assessment is relative to these brands’ overall impacts and what is considered best practice. This is particularly important for small brands that have access to fewer resources and have less influence on their supply chains.

Good On You’s ratings methodology also reflects the different types of small brands to ensure that even those with the smallest output can still achieve a good rating. We assess these brands on a wide range of key issues but acknowledge that they may face limitations when addressing these issues, such as the ability to enforce payment of a living wage amongst their suppliers, or reducing deforestation in regions where they source materials. We also acknowledge that figuring out where to start with sustainability disclosures can be a challenge for small brands, and we offer some guidance to those who are concerned about their rating.

When Good On You was established, we prioritised rating the most popular brands that people were buying from—now we’ve rated over 6,000, and we’re turning our attention to the opportunity to rate much smaller brands. There are so many tiny brands that we can’t wait to rate and display in our directory, and we know there are so many brilliant, more sustainable brands that we haven’t yet gotten to. We have a long waitlist of user-requested brands to rate, and we’re continually working to expand our capacity to rate these brands in addition to regularly reviewing the ratings of larger brands to ensure the information you have about them remains accurate.

Large brands can—and should—be doing the most

Large brands have more influence, resources, and control over their supply chain, and our methodology reflects this. We expect large brands to address a broader range of sustainability issues, like deforestation, biodiversity, and climate change targets. And given the resources available to most large brands, we also expect them to publish more detailed sustainability data across more issues—ideally in the form of an annual report.

One of the clearest examples of the disproportionate influence of large fashion businesses was the impact of major brands cancelling supplier orders during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the world’s biggest mass-producing brands abruptly cancelled big orders with their factories—many of which relied on such orders as a key part of their business, and as a result of the loss, were forced to cut working hours and pay for their garment workers, or even go out of business altogether. The purchasing power of small brands just isn’t on the same level that it could force the closure of a factory, and it’s vital that we hold larger brands accountable when they use their power to exploit others in the supply chain.

If you’re keen to learn more about Good On You’s ratings, have a look at our How We Rate page, read our explainer on the importance of publicly available information, and browse our directory to see how your favourite brands rate.

The post The Biggest Brands Should Be Doing the Most: Why We Rate Large and Small Brands Differently appeared first on Good On You.

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A survey by not-for-profit mattress recycler Soft Landing Mattress Recycling has found that a majority of Australian respondents would be prepared to pay more when purchasing a new mattress if the retailer collected and recycled their old one.

The ‘Mattresses Matter’ Sustainability Survey revealed a high degree of concern about mattress sustainability, with 93% of Australian consumers saying they would be more likely to purchase a new mattress from a retailer that collects and recycles their old one.

Of the 1016 people surveyed, 62% said that sustainability was important when purchasing a new mattress, and 93% were eager to recycle their end-of-life mattresses responsibly to avoid landfill. 96% said it was important for their local council to provide a free mattress collection and recycling service through an approved recycler.

While only 26% have used a mattress recycling service in the past, 65% would like to use one in the future. According to respondents, the top three barriers to mattress recycling are lack of recycling services (58%), uncertainty of services available (54%) and cost (33%).

To remove these barriers and stop mattresses going to landfill for good, Soft Landing, an Australian Bedding Stewardship Council (ABSC) approved recycler, is calling for retailers and councils nationwide to partner with them to provide a mattress collection and recycling service to all Australians.

Soft Landing General Manager David Petrie said that 1.8 million old mattresses are disposed of each year in Australia. “Of these, it is estimated that over 740,000 end up in landfill. This equates to 5500 average elephants or nearly 2500 compactor trucks,” he said.

“They take up enormous amounts of space and contribute significantly to environmental pollution; it’s 22,000 tonnes of needless waste that can be reduced through responsible recycling, so it’s encouraging to see such positive consumer attitudes towards mattress recycling in Australia.”

Petrie said Soft Landing partnered with many progressive councils and retailers to provide Australians with an accessible mattress collection and recycling service but there was still much to do. “Australians are saying they’ll use mattress recycling services if they’re available — so why not give them the chance?”

ABSC CEO Kylie Roberts-Frost said that mattresses were included in the Minister’s Product Stewardship Priority List for 2023–2024 due to the significant environmental challenge they pose. “The data from Soft Landing highlights the critical need for a coordinated industry effort to address this issue comprehensively,” she said.

“Our objective is to see mattresses designed for longevity and recyclability, ensuring valuable materials are reused and waste is minimised, where reuse is not an option. This aligns with the growing consumer demand for sustainable outcomes.”

Roberts-Frost added that collaboration between ABSC-approved recyclers like Soft Landing, retailers and local councils was vital. “These partnerships will not only help reduce the number of mattresses ending up in landfills but also support consumers who are keen to make environmentally responsible choices,” she said.

“By working together, manufacturers, retailers and councils can play a pivotal role in creating a more sustainable future for the mattress industry.”

To view the full Mattresses Matter – Sustainability Survey Report, visit: https://softlanding.com.au/mattressesmatterreport/.

Image caption: Soft Landing is a national not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity that collects and recycles mattresses to keep waste out of landfill while creating jobs for people experiencing barriers to work.

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